Unity through Diversity

Mixis Living Trailblazers

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BERRY GORDY JR.: Born November 28, 1929, in Detroit, Michigan, the seventh of eight children. His great grandfather was a white plantation owner in Georgia and his mother a female slave. Berry Gordy Jr. is distantly related to former president Jimmy Carter through Carter's mother. Berry dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade and tried to develop a career as a professional boxer, but was drafted by the United States Army during the Korean War. Upon returning from Korea in 1953, he began to develop his interest in music by writing songs and opening a record store featuring jazz music. He began to write for various artists in 1957 and, at the advice of front man, Smokey Robinson, leader of The Miracles, he created Tamla Records. Later, this turned into Motown Records and became the most famous record label of all time. It accomplished what many people of his time believed could never be done by bringing Black music into White American homes, helping both Black artists and their culture gain acceptance, and opening the door for a multitude of successful Black record executives and producers. He also brought the world countless memorable songs, not only through his vision for spotting talent in others, but also his own talent as a songwriter and producer.